Penang Forum discusses its Penang Hills Watch Report 2016 with state government – Aliran
The Penang Hills Watch (PHW) initiative of Penang Forum (PF) has submitted its maiden report on hill-clearing cases in Penang to the state government.
The report, submitted on 2 January 2017, covers cases and complaints that PHW has tracked over the past few months.
Last week, Penang Forum, State Executive Councillor for Local Government, Traffic Management and Environment YB Chow Kon Yeow and MBPP Director of Engineering Ir Addnan Mohd Razali discussed details of these cases during a closed-door meeting.
Penang Forum representative Rexy Prakash Chacko said that there are currently 126 documented reports on the PHW page out of which 86 were from the state government’s own records and 40 from the public. Of these, 29 public reports were submitted to the state government as others had been verified independently by the state government.
While the scope of PHW includes the whole of Penang state, all the reports received were from the island and centred on the middle belt of the island’s hills. The report zoned the island into three separate regions. Cases from each region detail the location, its geo tag and a photo of the clearing activity to help in investigations. Cases of hill clearing activity documented include both those for agricultural purposes and hill-slope development.
In its reply to the PHW report, the Penang state government clarified that out of the 29 cases documented by PHW, 14 were legally permitted land works, nine were illegal clearing activities, one was a case of natural slope failure and a further five are under investigation with other relevant departments. The nine cases of illegal clearing have been issued stop work orders or are being followed up by court action.
Rexy commended the Penang state government’s concern and transparency in responding to the PHW report. He added that the nine cases of illegal clearing which were documented have to be followed closely and if necessary, mitigation action taken to rehabilitate these areas. As for the cases which are legally permitted, it would be good that they adhere strictly to relevant state laws with regard to land work and drainage.
Penang Forum sincerely hopes that in line with the state’s initiative for a “Cleaner and Greener Penang”, the submission of this report and subsequent PHW reports will help the state government track hill-clearing in Penang and enable close cooperation between the state government and civil society in tackling one of Penang’s most troubling issues.